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 Naturopathic Medicine : Nourish Your Heart  
 
Lauri Aesoph M. ND ©

More exciting than keeping your magnesium levels up with foods like dark green vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains, is how this mineral could be used in hospital emergency rooms. A large British trial tested intravenous magnesium sulphate on over 1000 patients with symptoms of impending heart attack. One month after treatment, there were 24 percent fewer deaths in the group receiving magnesium injections. Magnesium, a simple and safe treatment according to Dr. Kent Woods and his associates, is thought to enhance blood flow, relax blood vessel walls, prevent abnormal heart rhythms and may even stop blood clot formation (7). Approximately one-third of the 1.5 million Americans who succumb to heart attacks each year die.

Antioxidants
Antioxidants, which include vitamins A, C and E, beta carotene and various flavonoids, are recommended for preventing cancer, the ravages of aging and heart disease. When you understand that antioxidants diminish free radicals, highly reactive molecules that damage cells and possibly health, it's clear why these compounds have such far reaching effects.

Dutch scientists measured the intake of dietary flavonoid antioxidants, found mainly in fruits and vegetables, of over 500 men. Five years later men who consumed the most flavonoid-rich foods were half as likely to die from coronary heart disease and have a heart attack than those eating the least amount of flavonoids. Flavonoids are thought to prevent atherosclerosis and reduce blood clot formation (8). Including a hefty amount of beta-carotene packed foods, such as carrots, yams and dark green vegetables, also reduce your chance of heart attack (9).

Other European investigators have discovered that antioxidant vitamins, particularly vitamin E, also protect against atherosclerosis and related chest pain. In fact, a Scottish study revealed that men with the lowest amounts of vitamin E in their blood were two and a half times more likely to suffer from angina than those with high levels. Vitamin C prevents heart disease by sparing vitamin E, and lowering elevated blood pressure and cholesterol (10,11).

Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10, or ubiquinone, works inside cellular energy packs called mitochondria found throughout your body. The heart, along with the liver and adrenal glands, contains the highest concentration of mitochondria. Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring substance in food and can be synthesized by your body, however, deficiencies may occur. Because cardiovascular disease increases the need for coenzyme Q10, 50 to 75 percent of cardiac patients are reportedly lacking in this enzyme (12).

Coenzyme Q10 is used to treat angina, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. A University of Texas study supplemented CHF patients already taking conventional CHF medication with coenzyme Q10. Not only did 78 percent of the patients improve, but their survival rate was higher than those receiving only standard treatment. The researchers found coenzyme Q10 to be safe and effective for long term use, yet caution that initial results may a month (13).

Cautionary Note
Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3, has been used for many years by both mainstream and natural medical practitioners to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides. Although effective, this vitamin should be used with caution and ideally under the skilled eye of a physician. Aside from the uncomfortable and relatively benign side effects such as flushing, itching and upset stomach, high doses of niacin may increase blood glucose and uric acid, and liver enzyme levels. Occasionally liver damage can occur (14). Niacin should not be used by people with a history of gout, liver dysfunction and diabetes (15).

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